Wolves @ Wizards Gameday

Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves @ Wizards 6:00 PM - Verizon Center
Where to Watch: My29
Where to Listen: 1130 AM

*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on 1130 AM.

Notable Injuries:
* Wes Johnson (illness) - DAY-TO-DAY
* Martell Webster (back) - OUT
* Darko Milicic (personal reasons) - OUT

Scouting Report:
Big Picture
The Wizards are stuck in a long seven-game losing skid and the present looks bleak but the future should be bright for a team that shed cap space this year and features three ultra-talented young pieces to build around. Of course, rookie John Wall is the cornerstone to go along with 2011 Dunk Contest runner-up JaVale McGee and one of the most improved players in the league Nick Young. Washington bought out veteran Mike Bibby in a cost cutting move to potentially make a run at some free agents next season. At 15-45, the current roster is searching for a home win as former Wolves head coach Flip Saunders returns to his team after attending to his ailing mother, who passed away on Friday night. After a home contest against Minnesota, the Wizards hit the road to Detroit and then return to the Verizon Center for three straight games.

Last Time Out
Despite 31 points from Young, Washington could not capitalize and fell 106-102 at home to the Warriors on Wednesday evening.

The Wolves forced a tie with Philadelphia at the midpoint of the fourth quarter but the Sixers rallied to close out Minnesota 111-100 at the Wells Faro Center. Kevin Love posted his 10th 20/20 game in the losing effort.

The Numbers Game
According to Yahoo Sports, Washington has suited up 39 different players over the last two seasons.

Match-up to Watch
Wayne Ellington / Wes Johnson vs. Nick Young
If Love wasn’t enjoying a historic season, most analysts believe Young would be the clear cut favorite to win the league’s Most Improved Player Award. The Wizards shooting guard leads the NBA in scoring average increase from last year to this year by jumping nine points per game. Over the last 10 games, young is posting 21 points each outing and dropped 31 on Wednesday. At 6-7, Young owns the size and strength to shoot over defenders on the perimeter or attack the rim with a solid off the dribble game. On the opposite side, the Wolves hope Wes Johnson can return to the lineup after missing last night’s game due to illness. Johnson offers the length to defend a scorer like Young and he was playing solid basketball since returning from All-Star Weekend. Ellington started to heat up late on Friday night with a couple of key buckets against the Sixers and finished with nine points.

What to Look For
In the first meeting, Minnesota received a huge performance from Love as the Wolves All-Star poured-in 35 points. While earning a 109-97 home victory, Minnesota reeled off a 19-3 run to close the game and the Wizards fell to 0-20 on the road. Wall recorded a double-double but his impact on the game was minimal and the Wolves backcourt will need to limit the rookie sensation from streaking in the open floor. Andray Blatche has also proved to be a nice scoring option along the Washington frontline next to McGee. The Wolves should feel confident heading to tonight’s contest after rolling past Detroit on Wednesday and an impressive effort against Philadelphia last night. Darko Milicic will not play in dealing with a personal matter, Martell Webster remains sidelined with a sore back, and Johnson is a gametime decision. Facing another contest shorthanded, Minnesota will need to hold the Wizards below 100 points while winning the battle inside the paint behind Love, Nikola Pekovic (career-high 16 points last night), and newly acquired big man Anthony Randolph.
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